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Library system now offering passport service
Blackshear Blace branch providing service
Lindsey White uses the Passport Acceptance Agency at the Blackshear Place branch of the Hall County Library System on Monday afternoon. After the Hall County Clerk of Courts stopped processing applications, the library system applied to become an acceptance agency and was recently approved.

Passport services at Blackshear Place library branch

2927 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville

Hours of operation

Monday: Noon to 8 p.m.

Tuesday and Wednesday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Thursday: Noon to 8 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More info

Application cost: $110 for adults, $80 for those younger than 16

Execution fee: $25

Photo fee: $15

Notes: Passports take about six weeks to receive in the mail. Need check or money order for application cost. Visit the State Department website for a list of accepted forms of identification and other information at

The close location and helpful assistance made life easy for Lindsey White and her two children on Monday as they applied for passports ahead of the family’s planned cruise to the Bahamas.

The Hall County Library System launched a passport program at the Blackshear Place branch in Gainesville in early January.

Branch Manager Veronica Gomez said about 150 people have applied for passports since the service launched.

With trained staff in place and public announcements about the service up and running, library officials expect more and more customers to start coming in.  

“I have had people say they waited for us to open,” library Director Lisa MacKinney said.

The post office on Limestone Parkway had been the only location in Hall County that issued passports after the Clerk of Courts stopped processing applications in 2014 due to budget cuts.

MacKinney said locating the passport service at Blackshear Place was better than the branch along Spout Springs Road because of construction projects planned in the area and more suitable than the downtown Gainesville branch since major renovations are scheduled there.

White said she found the library branch listed online as providing the passport service, and that it made sense to bring the kids with her so the whole family could apply at once. Her husband already has a passport.

A purported backlog had caused the federal Department of State to put a hold on new applications from agencies across the country looking to issue passports.

But Mark Pettitt, chairman of the library Board of Trustees, said lawmakers from Georgia helped get the library approved to provide the service, which creates a new revenue stream for the system of branches, despite this hurdle.  

The library system has seen dramatic budget cuts in recent years, and officials believe the passport service will help stabilize its finances.

For example, the system’s budget stands at $2.62 million for the current fiscal year, down from about $3.7 million in 2008, an almost 30 percent drop.

Pettitt said the passport program could generate between $80,000 and $120,000 annually.

And that revenue could help build the system’s fund balance, purchase supplies or complete renovations, MacKinney said.

Though MacKinney acknowledged that the program is a minor financial gamble, she said she believes the investment will pay off in time.